Looking to get the purest water possible where ever you are? The simple answer is to invest in a portable water filter bottle. These ultra-portable filters are ideal for extracting the yuck from your water. Providing you with a bit of peace of mind on the go, having your own filter not only gives you the best tasting water possible, it can even prevent you from consuming harmful bacteria or chemicals. In the case of some of the best filtered water bottles, the filters are powerful enough to potentially even prove a lifesaving device.
(UPDATE: This article still contains a lot of great information and suggestions, but for a more up-to-date perspective, check out our Best Filtered Water Bottles Guide 2018.)
Finding the Best Filtered Water Bottle
There are quite a few things to consider when picking up a filtered water bottle. In order to help you complete your quest to find the best filtered water bottle on the market, you’ll need to know a bit of background information on how filtered bottles work and what they do. Lets dive in!
What Your Filter is Filtering
- Chemical Compounds: Both organic (such as pesticides and disinfectants) and inorganic chemicals (such as chlorine, arsenic, fluoride or copper.) Chemical compounds find their way into water naturally (things like minerals) or artifically (things like fluoride added to water, copper or metal contaminants from plumbing, or even chemical fertilizers and other synthetic chemicals which can leech into water sources.)
- Bacteria and Parasites: Bacteria and parasites are living microorganisms which are present in the water we drink. While most bacteria and parasites are harmless or even helpful, some can have extremely negative health impacts, such as Cryptosporidium or Clostridium which cause vomiting and diarreha.
- Viruses: Viruses are often thought of as similar to bacteria, although they have many key differences. The most important when it comes to filters is the fact that viruses can be tens or hundreds of times smaller than most bacteria. This makes them exceptionally hard to filter and most water filters are not fine enough to remove virus particles.
For more information on water contaminants, see this excellent page from water.epa.gov.
Consider the Source!
To select the best filtered water bottle for your needs, its important to consider the source of your water. The best water bottle with a filter designed for one application might be totally unequipped for another task. If your goal is merely to have an extra filter between your body and your everyday tap water, then just about any run-of-the-mill filtered water bottle will do.
But if your goal is to have a filtered water bottle that can collect water from any source that is not typically considered clean drinking water, your going to want something a bit more heavy duty. While a standard, low-end filter bottle might do a great job at taking any undesirable taste from your water and maybe even filtering out some quantity of bacteria, they are definitely not the ideal instrument for filtering water from potentially questionable sources. If in doubt about the quality of the water you’ll be drinking, don’t skimp and put your health on the line – do your research and get the very best filtering water bottle you can find.
Check before buying if your filtered water bottle is designed for use with tap water or is capable of safely filtering from other sources. It will be clearly advertised if it can be used with water from outside of a tap – if you can’t find any mention of using it with river water, rain water, or similar sources, err on the side of caution and only use it for tap water or contact the manufacturer for more information.
Common Types of Water Bottle Filters
There are two forms of filter most commonly used in filtered water bottles:
- Carbon Filter: Carbon filters are widely used across the world for their simplicity and effectiveness at chemical filtering. Carbon filters are composed of a layer of activated ccarbon which the water passes through, removing contaminants down to extremely small sizes, depending on how fine the filter has been made (measured in microns.) Carbon filters gradually wear out and accumulate with waste and must be periodically replaced. These are the most common form of filter found in a water filtration bottle.
- UV Filter: Far less common (and more expensive) than carbon filters, UV filters make use of powerful ultraviolet light to kill viruses and bacteria. They do not remove chemical compounds or alter the taste of the water as much as a carbon filter, but are far more effective at eliminating viruses and effectively sterilizing water. UV and carbon filters can be combined for a double-whammy approach to getting clean water.
As it turns out, one of the most important parts of any filtered water bottle is the mechanism it uses to actually pass the water through the filter. Carbon filters require the water to be physically passed through the activated carbon and therefore tend to require some method to move the liquid through the filter. UV filters on the other hand are simply lights which need to be focused on the water for a short period.
Lets take a look at some different bottles on the market and how they accomplish their filtering to get a better idea of whats available.
(UPDATE: Although the bottles we list below are still great, it has been awhile since we put this list together. For a more up-to-date look at filter bottles available, click here to read the Best Filter Bottles section of our Best Water Bottles 2017 article.)
(Update: Check our our full review of the FIT Top.)
The FIT Top is unique on the market for featuring a “pour-through” filter. While many filtering bottles filter their contents from the inside, the FIT Top passes the water through the filter as it enters the bottle, instead of on its way out. The result of this little switcharoo is a filtering water bottle which you can still put additives in. If you want the benefits of filtered water but like to have a little flavor added, investigate picking up a FIT Top – ideal for filtering tap water and getting the best tasting drink every time!
By far the most expensive entry in this list, the LIFESAVER bottle is in some ways in a class of its own. Unlike any other filtered bottle on the market in terms of its filtration quality, the LIFESAVER bottle is equipped with a powerful microbiological filter with pores as small as 15 nanometers, enough to take care of just about any water borne pathogen out there. Further complimenting the filtration power of the LIFESAVER is its pneumatic pressurized design.
To get water out of the LIFESAVER bottle, you need to give it a few pumps to pressurize. Once some pressure is built up, releasing the spout lets out a stream of fresh, filtered running water. Unlike every other entry on this list, the LIFESAVER is capable of providing not only filtered, drinkable water from non-potable sources, but also providing a source of clean, running water where ever you might happen to find yourself.
We are big fans of the LIFESAVER bottle. Read our complete review here.
(Update: check out our comprehensive review of the LifeStraw Go Water Bottle.)
(Update 2: A new version of the LifeStraw Go Bottle is available which incorporates a second stage of carbon filtration to improve taste and odor of the water. Read our review of the updated LifeStraw Go 2 Water Bottle.)
The LifeStraw is a portable filtering technology which uses a super-fine filter capable of filtering particles as small as 0.2 microns. Integrated into a high quality, BPA-free plastic bottle, the LifeStraw Go is the kind of thing you would want if you need a water bottle capable of filtering river, rain, or even puddle water.
In the LifeStraw, water is delivered through the filter via suction, meaning you’ll have to do the work of pulling the water through the filter more or less yourself – a small price to pay for (relatively) clean water anywhere you can find enough to drink. As handy as the LifeStraw is, even its super-fine filter is not enough to extract viruses. If you plan on drinking from questionable sources somewhere waterborne viruses are common, you’ll definitely be wanting to invest in the best UV filter water bottle you can find.
The Mountop is a simple yet effective design: a powerful UV light is mounted to the top of a BPA-free plastic water bottle. Simply fill the bottle up, turn on the UV light, wait 90 seconds, and voila! Sterilized drinking water ready to appease thirsty mouths.
The Mountop incorporates a rechargeable battery to power the UV light which can be charged from any USB port. It also has an LCD indicator of low battery, and even a handy LED flashlight should you find yourself in need of some illumination
This selection from Brita is pretty plain – definitely not the best filtered water bottle on the market, but not bad – actually, I’ve selected it for precisely that reason! Using a basic carbon filter only suitable for tap water, this bottle filters your water as it leaves the top. Like many filtering bottles, this Brita can be squeezed to force water through the filter and out of the bottle, or you can do the work yourself and use it as a straw.
Tasting is Believing!
What is the best filtered water bottle? I suggest you try some out and let your taste buds decide! Even if you don’t need some fancy super filter that can let you drink the water from any roadside puddle, you can probably still appreciate what a difference a quality filter can make to normal tap water. Free your water (and your body) from contaminants with the help of a water filtration bottle!
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Looking for a filtered water bottle? Don't miss this in-depth guide which includes everything you need to know to make the right purchase.
Jacob Hatch is the author and founder of Hydration Anywhere. He has been actively writing about drinking water since 2013. These days Jacob spends most of his time investigating water related news, studying environmental issues, reading health studies, and reviewing products like water bottles and water filters.